Thomas Dillard was 0-for-4 when he came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning against Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon. That’s a notable stat line for a guy who came into the game with .500 batting average and a strong argument as the best hitter in college baseball.
“He can make all that go away with one one swing of the bat here,” Ole Miss color commenter and former pitcher Brady Bramlett said as Dillard dug in.
Away it went.
A long way.
With the game tied at 6 and the bases empty, Dillard obliterated a 3-0 fastball, sending it out toward the student section to clinch the weekend series for the Rebels.
What Dillard has done this young season is nothing short of incredible. He came into the weekend ranked top five nationally in home runs, slugging percentage and total bases. His kill shot against Long Beach State was his sixth long ball and drove in his 19th run of the year. A switch hitter, his onslaught has been pristinely symmetrical: he came into Saturday hitting an even .500 on each side of the plate.
It’s awe-inspiring to watch a man with the build of a Jeep Renegade swing a baseball bat with the graceful fluidity of an interpretive dancer. It’s the roar of a six-cylinder engine paired seamlessly with Yo Yo Ma’s Suite No. 1 in G major. It’s ASMR in one ear and Thunderstruck in the other.
Dillard knew the nanosecond he hit that ball that it was gone. You knew it was gone. The guy in the concession stand knew it was gone. Your aunt knew it was gone, and she wasn’t even watching the game.
When Dillard gets ahold of one—and I mean ahold of one—there is no doubt. Just listen to this Tulane play-by-play man call this Dillard bomb from last weekend with the tenor of someone who just found out a family member died.
If it hadn’t been for a Tulane homer in the next frame, Dillard would have two game-winning, ninth-inning homers in the span of a week.
Thomas Dillard is a sadistic, unfeeling, serial murderer of baseballs. Even on a day that he’s 0-for-4, no ball is safe.